Milan’s Downtown Redevelopment and Revitalization

Community: City of Milan
Population: 2,500-9,999

The redevelopment of the East Main block in downtown Milan was a major project to restore four adjacent and mostly vacant buildings for commercial and residential use for another century.  The original buildings were constructed in 1845, 1871, and 1892.  A few buildings had received “new” facades in the 1930s and 1940s and were restored to their original state in the 2015-16 project. The interiors of the buildings were virtually gutted, leaving only the brick walls, most floor joints and base floors.  Inside the structure that remained, the four buildings were connected on the second and third stories. Fifteen upscale residential apartments were created in the space on the upper levels. At the street level, eight storefronts remained and were prepared for final buildout for future businesses. The project was accomplished with funds from MSHDA Rental Rehabilitation, MEDC Community Revitalization Program, Federal Historic Tax Credits, private funding and financing.


The project is one that can be replicated in any community across the United States with the right partners and passion. The collaboration between the owner/developer, the City of Milan, the State of Michigan, MEDC, MSHDA and the lending institutions brought all of the pieces of the pie together to create a completed project of which everyone can be proud. The dollars available from the MEDC for this type of rehabilitation/redevelopment are available to any qualifying community and the CAD team specialists can assist with the process. In regards to the City, it is imperative to have political and administrative support for projects of this nature.

Creativity and Originality:

This project used a compact mixed-use design to take four separate buildings that were originally constructed over 125 years ago and converted them into one structure that houses 15 apartments and 8 street level storefronts. The creative work by the architect took these historic landmarks in our downtown and gave them modern amenities that will provide housing and commercial opportunities for generations to come. You will not find another development that occupies an entire city block anywhere else in the State of Michigan.

Community Impact:

This project created a sense of pride across the community among businesses and residents. It has also created a renewed sense of energy, and has led to the successful acceptance of the City into the Michigan Main Street program at the Select level. The redevelopment has increased the population in the downtown, increased traffic, increased revenue for the businesses, and has created a sense of place for all.  In addition, the community and the project was recently recognized by Governor Snyder’s office as a recipient of the Governor's Award for Historic Preservation.

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Project Multimedia:

Powerpoint Presentation


Milan's Downtown Redevelopment and Revitalization from Jade Smith on Vimeo.